Old skills

I recently mentioned here that I am shooting some film, on this:

So I just got my first roll of film back, or rather the prints from it, and this leads me to say a few things.

First, I am glad I still know how to shoot film. The pictures look as good as my digital equivalents. Which is nice, considering that I have gotten used to seeing the pictures on the back of the camera after shooting. All my exposures were good, save two that were a little underexposed.

Second, I am glad that there’s still a place to buy film (Henry’s, Vistek) and a local place to print and scan film (my local Black’s at the Oakville Place mall). Print and scan, that is right: they develop, and print and/or scan C41 colour film (B&W is a little more time-consuming and expensive). Develop and print colour is around $20 for a roll of 36; scan is about another $5. Perfect! In your town there will also be places to go, still. Sparse but existing.

Third, I am used to correcting things like white balance, and I cannot do that here. So some shots are a little cool (like the ones above): well, nothing I can do on the prints. I asked for “no adjustments” and that is what I got. Daylight film lit with flash should be OK, but evidently the machine was set to a little blue.

Fourth, this is fun. Go get a camera, which will cost yo no more than $150 used, and go shoot some 400 ASA film. You can do it!

Fifth, I use my brain when cropping; stores do not always do this. I shoot 35mm film which has 4×6 aspect ratio. I printed on 5×7, so a crop is needed, or letterboxing. They cropped, but in a few shots that was done unintelligently (cropping off half my subjects in some shots).

Sixth, to be a real photographer you need to be able to shoot film. Seeing my shots I feel the real deal again. See fourth.

Seventh, prints are great to hold. All this digital stuff is great, but you know I am a great proponent of physical prints, books, wall art, and so on. Please, make prints.


So is there still a place for film? Most certainly there is. If only to ensure you can still do it. I really thought about each shot, since each click costs $1.  “They’re really good”, said the kid at Black’s. Not boasting here, but they are, and they are better than what I used to shoot when I shot film years ago.

There you have it: Digital makes you a better film photographer, and film makes you a better digital photographer.

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